Dark, Misty night, Heavy rains, walk through a narrow path with 1300 mtrs deep valley on both sides, dense KARVI forests, slippery muddy paths, unknown, Unseen challenges on the route and age of 58 , didn’t refrain MARIA from completing the toughest trekk in trans sahyadri ranges, the most favored by avid trekkers THE RAJGADH-TORNA trek.
“I feel great right now. It’s really a euphoric experience,” Maria  says. “I’m just so thankful to the people who have helped me. I literally would not be here if it weren’t all the people who encouraged me along the way, thanks to VIKAS, SANTOSH, NITA ,MATHIVARAN, SONIYA, SANJANA and our guide MANGESH. “ it’s a great achievement for me to reach at height of 4200 ft and a steady walk for almost 14 hours with a basket full of difficulties on each nook and corner. But my will power, motivation from all and love for CHATRAPATI SHIVAJI MAHARAJ and his blessings got me safely to the fort.”
The trek was organized by VIKAS KULKARNI and SANTOSH KAMAT from porvorim, both avid trekkers and well versed with sahyadri region and the ancient forts.
“We started our journey on Thursday from Goa, with one halt we reached the base camp at Rajgad in the next day afternoon and the rolling started, immediately we were in mood of conquering the fort once we had glimpse of the fort from base camp. After a break and breakfast, deliciously prepared by Mr. Rasal family we had a instructions by our guide Mangesh, who took us through the route and the challenges in between. Rajgad climb from CHOR (hidden) darwaja has steep climbs at few places , somewhere villagers had installed railings to ease the climb otherwise there works only your inner strenghth and will power. It took us 3.30 hours to climb up the fort via this route. On the fort there is a small temple PADMAVATI TEMPLE whre generallay trekkers stay at night, but we were having different arrangements and soon our tents were set in behind the temple, also the food for night was sent by Rasal family on fort. We relished on the food and soon went to sleep, with next days trek in mind but least known about the challenges we will have to face on way.
Next day morning was a bright morning and the USP of rajgad is to view sunrise from SUVELA machi , Suvela means  GOOD TIMING , u watch the sunrise from the same spot and you feel you have achieved some great in life, then there is NEDHE, a natural formation hole in mountain which is a unique feature itself. We had some photography and few members climbed more up on the BALEKILLA , Balekilla includes caves, water cisterns and palaces. The entrance door of the Balekilla is called as Maha Dwar.  The whole view of the fort can be easily viewed from there. Padmavati Machi, Suvela Machi, Sanjeevani Machi, and Balekilla are the four parts in which the fort is divided. The fort is a perfect example of ancient architecture and splendid design.
On return we were served with hot hot poha and team made by villagers there who usually climbs up from nearby villages during weekends so can earn some money when few trekkers visits fort.
 After breakfast then we headed to take on the unknown, unseen challenges, the rajgad-torna trek started. After lockdowmn we were the first to travel by this route hence it was not proper in shape, all the usual trekking paths and markings were lost. To find out the correct one was a biggest challenge, or else u take one wrong way and you will get lost in SAHYADRI mountains. Our guide took us through the steep downs through dense forest , karvi vegetations, waters, slippery stones, (literally I remembered the skipping stone show on POGO). After a good walk though all the possible difficulties we reached a solo house of KACHRE family, who is there for trekkers help enroute and serves foods for passer byes. The lady cooked rice dal and green chilli THECHA. After  must needed break we headed to take on the final challenge (which we also unaware off what it will be. ha ha ha..)
The final climb was full of thrills and hidden challenges, I felt like we are upto some task and will get some reward if we do these climbs. The final walk was by dense forests again, little little drizzles started coming, batteries were going off, winds pushing us to edge of cliffs, walk on ridge with 1300 mtrs valley on either sides, certain sounds of wild animals and scary rock climbs, ladders climb without any protections.. .
what else you need for the adventure trek? Some places we climbed atleast 100 mtrs crawling through rocks as it was 80 degree climb, sometimes a ladder to go up, sometimes through a slippery rocks and waterfalls, and sitting on edges of 1300 mtrs valley,  waiting for fellow members to come up n join me. I think I can do any trekk now anywhere with this experience trek. Finally we were on the TORNA fort and felt that there is n o more climb now, people on fort were also worried as it took us too long to come up and they also came to greet us mid way. But it was not the end as we thought, another half an hour climb was there but fortunately railings were there so with help of that and people waiting for us we reached on top near the MEGAI TEMPLE.
There we had a discussions with villagers there and they felt great that from GOA people had visited the fort and there is respect and  love in goa for CHATRAPATI SHIVAJI MAHARAJ. Later we  had food and tents were arranged for us to sleep. Next day we started early , after getting freshen up, we had good breakfast prepared by villagers there, who had came to the temple for GHATSTHAPANA, it was start of NAVRATRI. We had few photos and we started our down climb taking glimpse of TORNA FORT, which was first conquered by SHIVAJI MAHARAJ to start his SWARAJYA .The climb also too was scary again with water flowing, slippery rocks, sometimes nothing to hold with valley of 900 mtrs in front and you have to slide making your , hands, pants dirty, but that is the fun during these kind of adventures. Finally we reached our base point again where we had started on friday.. and after one more excellent food our back journey to Goa was started.”
To much to take back as memories of this adventures trek, it was excellently planned and managed by Vikas , he had got contacts everywhere and being in same areas for educations, he goes along with the villagers easily with their typical DESHI language.
I had been to many treks and hikings but those were in himachal and goa waterfalls, none of those were as difficult as this one,they call it TRANS SAHYADRI REGIONS where you need high endurance level, courage to take up the challenges. I feel proud of myself as I climbed all these steeps, rocks, ladders, slided, crowled, slipped, injured still the love for MAHARAJ took me to the fort top through all difficulties and yet it was a great achievement for me in the end. Thanks to all team and looking forward for more in coming days.”
Finally I want to tell all women of my age that “ you think trekking/hiking for women after the age of 40 is impossible, then you are mistaken. It’s for you to break this myth. Let’s face it, life is busiest for most women in their 40s. Kids are growing up, career is at its peak if you are working, or there are family commitments if you are a homemaker. Even the body goes through biological changes as fitness levels are sliding, and there are mood swings… the list is endless. But should all these deter your wish to trek or hike especially when you have never done it? Well, I would definitely say NO.
If you are a woman over the age of 40 and want to start trekking, just do it. Trust me, once you start, there is no looking back. If you have any friends who are willing to join, get them on board. If not, then be rest assured that you will make good friends during treks. “